Monday, April 7, 2008

Light a candle or curse the darkness?

The media is quick to report that our much-maligned President Bush has an approval rating of only 32%. But I was surprised to learn that the Democratic-controlled Congress has even LOWER approval ratings, averaging a mere 21%. A similar margin - about 4 out of 5 people - said our country is headed in the wrong direction and people blame the government more than anyone else for economic and other woes. So the billion-dollar question: what is truly wrong with our government and how do we fix it?

I believe John McCain has shared the missing piece of the puzzle. It is not glamorous and it leaves traditional political media scratching their heads. It's not a magical end to war and terrorism. It's not Uncle Sam paying for Grandma's medications or your mortgage payment. The unpopular reality is this: there is no substitute, no shortcut, for personal responsibility.

Even in the midst of celebrating his unarguably heroic service, McCain has admitted his own mistakes and imperfections, and (gasp) shared what he learned from them. Speaking at the Naval Academy last week, McCain called for a return to responsibility not just in government but in all citizens:

"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them."

The good citizen and wise person pursues happiness that is greater than comfort, more sublime than pleasure. The cynical and indifferent know not what they miss. For their mistake is an impediment not only to our progress as a civilization but to their happiness as individuals."

Glamorous? No. True? Absolutely.

To anyone who is unsure if McCain is 100% perfect, I will spare you some legwork: he's not. But he is refreshingly honest, always accountable, unwavering on issues of life or death and willing to make even politically-unpopular decisions. We are handing our next President a complex war, a volatile global and domestic economy, oversight of a divided and ineffective legislature, multiple judicial appointments, and a host of challenges yet unforeseen. Let's hand that responsibility to a man who takes it seriously.

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